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Prospective Labour candidate dropped after Israel-Nazi comparison seeks selection in new seat

Michelle Harris is one of the administrators of the Labour Party Forum Facebook group

    Ms Harris with Jeremy Corbyn (Photo: Michelle Harris/Facebook)

    A Labour member removed from one parliamentary candidate shortlist for extreme anti-Israel social media posts is reportedly seeking selection in a different seat.

    Michelle Harris was removed from the Hastings and Rye shortlist in January after the local party was alerted to some of her posts on Facebook.

    It is understood she is now seeking selection in the Walsall North constituency in the Midlands and is working to secure the backing of the Unite union.

    In 2014, at the time of the Gaza conflict, she wrote: “I have often said the Holocaust victims who died with dignity must be turning in their graves at the horrors done in the name of Judaism. Gaza is a ghetto being shelled.”

    According to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism, examples of contemporary antisemitism include “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis”.

    As reported by the Red Roar blog, Ms Harris also shared a post from David Icke, the antisemitic conspiracy theorist, in which he said Israel was “killing or removing an entire people to steal their land”.

    The blog said Ms Harris was “close to securing the backing of Unite”, the largest trade union in the UK.

    The Hastings and Rye Labour Party had been alerted to the posts by the Labour Against Antisemitism group.

    Euan Philipps, a spokesman for the group and a Labour councillor, said at the time it was “beyond belief that Michelle Harris is even a Labour Party member, never mind that she has been shortlisted as a parliamentary candidate”.

    Responding at the time, Ms Harris described this as “a smear campaign being waged against me” and claimed “those who orchestrated this… edited and sought to manipulate posts of mine.

    “I put a post up regarding the dignity of Holocaust survivors which has been claimed to be an indication that I think the only dignified Jew is a dead one,” she said.

    “I feel sickened even typing that, I have visited and paid my respect to the Holocaust victims at Yad Vashem, a truly moving memorial.

    “What’s really is going on here is an attempt to silence Corbyn supporters and those opposed to the degradation and destruction of Palestine.”

    Ms Harris is also one of the administrators of the Labour Party Forum Facebook group, which has attracted criticism for offensive and antisemitic content.

    Both Hastings and Rye and Walsall North are key target seats for Labour. The former is the seat held by Amber Rudd, the Conservative Home Secretary, which Labour fell 300 votes shorts of taking in last year’s election.

    By contrast, Walsall North was one of the few seats taken from Labour by the Conservatives last June, when David Winnick, the Jewish MP who had held the seat since 1979, was beaten by the Conservatives’ Eddie Hughes.

    The Walsall North Labour Party told the JC that it was “unable to comment on third party allegations but does take all forms of discrimination very seriously”, and referred all enquiries relating to the selection process to the West Midlands Labour office.

    West Midlands Labour has been contacted for comment.

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